Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Living the Dream - Life as a Bestselling Author

After writing for six years, I find myself in the enviable position of earning a very decent living from writing fiction. Recently I took the plunge and gave up my day job as a school teacher. After all, if a crime author can't bite the bullet, what hope is there for any writer? So here I am at last, living the dream. I can finally call myself a full-time writer. And this is the point where I am beginning to realise that, in my case at least, 'full-time writer' is a bit of a misnomer. You might expect that I would have a lot more time to devote to my writing, now that I'm writing full-time. That was certainly my expectation when I gave up the day job. The reality is somewhat different...
It's hard to credit, but now that I no longer have the day job, I'm actually struggling to maintain my output. I hesitate to admit that I'm actually doing less writing now than when I was working. (Although I now earn my living from writing, I still can't think of writing as work.)  'Writers' block,' you mutter knowingly, 'that's why she's struggling to write so much.' You couldn't be more wrong.
The problem that keeps me from writing is that I'm just too busy. Take my visit to York in October. I'm going there to research the area for the Ian Peterson series which is set in York. Of the twelve days I'll be be in the area, I actually have two days free for my research. The rest of the visit is taken up with seven bookshop visits, two library talks, and one U3A talk, and then there's likely to be a radio interview and an interview with a local paper - and I still need to fit in a  talk to students at a local college. And so it goes on... I'm going to struggle to fit in all my research. Writing won't get a look in.
Look at my summer. July was occupied with a research trip for a week, followed by a crime festival which took up nearly another week. apart from two book signings, two author talks, and six meetings. In August I spent two weeks teaching at the Writers Lab in Greece, followed by a week at a Literary Festival in France, with a signing and a meeting thrown in between my travels. And so it goes on, meetings, book signings, author talks and workshops, one after another, with seemingly no let up.
It's all great fun, but I do sometimes look back at the days when all I did was work full-time in a normal job, and write books. Life was so much simpler then, and, dare I say it, not quite such hard work.

6 comments:

Derek Thompson said...

Hi Leigh, that's an interesting insight into life on the other side of the page, so to speak. When you are working on a book, do you try and structure your writing time? It'd be great to have you blog about your approach.

Leigh Russell said...

OK, Derek, will do. Thanks for your interest.

Guillaume said...

I need to go to one of these Writers Lab.

Cara Cooper said...

Hi Leigh, it must be fun though travelling round and 'living' your books through research. Exhausting though, physically and perhaps that's part of what makes it difficult for you to find more time to write. I find I can only really get a decent output by writing in the early morning. In the evening I'm done in and I certainly would be if I was zooming round everywhere. Keep up the good work though and look forward to the bit where you do sit down and get it all on the page. Lovely to meet you finally last night!

Leigh Russell said...

I've been invited to Greece and the Isle of Wight in 2015. Come along, Guillaume. It would be lovely if you coukd join us. I might be in Italy as well... watch this space...

Leigh Russell said...

Lovely to meet you too, Cara! I'm not good first thing in the morning, but these days I'm too tired by the evening... hmm.